Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Gunfire broke out in Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu as government forces clashed with opposition supporters angry over a delay in elections.
  • AMERICAS: US President Joe Biden is set to outline details of his administration’s foreign policy at a G7 summit and a Munich Security Conference event.
  • ASIA: Grocery store worker Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who was shot in the head by police during a protest, became the first casualty of Myanmar’s ongoing anti-coup protests.
  • EUROPE: French President Emmanuel Macron said the US and European countries should send up to 5% of their coronavirus vaccine supplies to developing countries.
  • MIDDLE EAST: General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the US Army Central Command (Centcom), said Washington is looking at “fallback” bases in Saudi Arabia to prevent US troops in the region from becoming targets in the event of tensions with Iran.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: Hong Kong’s government called for the city’s public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong to be more closely supervised by government-appointed advisers, in a move which critics say is the city government’s latest attempt to limit freedom of the press.

Top Story

  • Global: US says ready to meet with Iran and world powers over 2015 nuclear deal.
    • The Biden administration signaled it was willing to participate in discussions with Iran and world powers over salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
    • The US State Department said, “The United States would accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”
    • Such an invitation has not been sent out by the European Union yet, but one is expected shortly after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with the foreign ministers of the UK, Germany, and France.
    • The Biden administration also backed away from a Trump administration effort to restore United Nations sanctions on Iran and eased the stringent travel restrictions for Iranian diplomats posted to the United Nations.
    • Following the developments, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the Biden administration to lift US sanctions “imposed, reimposed or re-labeled by Trump”, after which Tehran would “immediately reverse all remedial measures”.
    • Iran has previously threatened to ban short-notice inspections of its nuclear facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections next week if the US does not lift sanctions.
    • Reporting: AP, Reuters, DPA, BBC, NYT, WSJ 

Africa

  • Region: The African Union plans to setup a fund to finance infrastructure projects across the continent. (Reuters)
  • Algeria: President Abdelmadjid Tebboune dissolved the lower house of parliament and called for early legislative elections. (Reuters)
  • Somalia: Gunfire broke out in capital city Mogadishu as government forces clashed with opposition supporters angry over a delay in elections. (Reuters)

Americas

  • Canada: The country’s main opposition party has called for the House of Commons to declare that China is committing genocide in its Xinjiang region. (AP)
  • Brazil: The country surpassed 10 million confirmed coronavirus cases, amid a vaccine shortage in a number of cities. (Reuters)
  • Guatemala: Thousands of people marched on the capital Guatemala City demanding the resignation of President Alejandro Giammattei for a mismanaged response to the coronavirus pandemic. (AFP)
  • United States: President Joe Biden is set to outline details of his administration’s foreign policy at a G7 summit and a Munich Security Conference event. (AP)
  • Venezuela: Authorities have started administering doses of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to healthcare workers. (AFP)

Asia  

  • Region: China revealed for the first time that four Chinese soldiers had died during a bloody Himalayan border skirmish with Indian troops in June 2020. (Reuters)
  • Region: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Japan, Australia, and India “agreed on the need to swiftly restore the democratic system” in Myanmar, according to Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi. (Reuters)
  • Myanmar: Grocery store worker Mya Thwate Thwate Khaing, who was shot in the head by police during a protest, became the first casualty of the country’s ongoing anti-coup protests. (Guardian)

Europe

  • France: President Emmanuel Macron said the US and European countries should send up to 5% of their coronavirus vaccine supplies to developing countries. (BBC)
  • Netherlands: The government is appealing to judges to overturn a recent court order that scrapped the government’s coronavirus curfew. (AFP)
  • Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said the government will confront all forms of violence after protests over the arrest of a rapper for posting controversial tweets. (AFP)

Middle East

  • Region: General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the US Army Central Command (Centcom), said Washington is looking at “fallback” bases in Saudi Arabia to prevent US troops in the region from becoming targets in the event of tensions with Iran. (AFP)
  • Region: Russia mediated a prisoner swap between Israel and Syria after an Israeli woman was detained by Syrian authorities after crossing the border between the two countries. (BBC)
  • Yemen: The International Committee of the Red Cross is “extremely concerned” by the recent increase in violence between Iran-backed Houthi rebels and government forces in the oil-rich Marib province. (AP)

Tech & Communications

  • Media: Hong Kong’s government called for the city’s public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong to be more closely supervised by government-appointed advisers, in a move which critics say is the city government’s latest attempt to limit freedom of the press. (NYT)

World

  • Cyclones:
    • Tropical Storm Dujuan
      • Location: 787 nautical miles SE of Manila, Philippines
      • Wind: 40 mph
      • Movement: NW at 5 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 18FEB21)
      • Confirmed cases: 109,987,995
      • Total recovered cases: 61,945,099
      • Deaths: 2,432,430
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 192
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (20FEB21)

  • Global: The UN’s World Day of Social Justice – 2008
  • Europe: The 9th trilateral Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey foreign ministers’ meeting will be held.
  • Europe: European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will visit Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss migration issues.
  • Iran: International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi will visit.
  • Maldives: Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar will visit and meet with his counterpart Abdulla Shahid. (to 21FEB)
  • Mexico: The government’s first order of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine could arrive in the country.
  • Russia: Opposition politician Alexei Navalny will appeal against the parole violation and defamation charges levied against him.
  • Thailand: Parliament could hold a no-confidence vote against Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and nine members of his Cabinet.

END